Billy Connolly's World Tour of Australia (1996)

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Released 7-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 311:54
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nobby Clark
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Billy Connolly
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $49.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is another instalment in the wonderful Billy Connolly World Tour series. We have had England, Ireland and Wales and then Scotland and now our very own Australia. This is not a tourist series as such, although we do go to many tourist attractions, but rather what Billy does on his days off whilst on tour. Because Billy is very well-known and in particular because he is famous for making people laugh, doors open everywhere for him. This series was made before the Harbour Bridge climb was open to the public - "Want to climb the bridge, Billy? Sure, off you go!". This happens on more than one occasion, including access to the very top (on the outside) of the Opera House.

    All that is cool of course because he takes us with him, capturing some of the most amazing footage of Sydney and other prime locations around Australia. This is no amateur home video - while they are filming from the top of whatever landmark they have talked their way to the top of there is also usually a helicopter to capture views of Billy on the top and so on.

    Billy is supposedly doing this tour on a magnificent three-wheeled Harley Davidson - many of the introductions to each location are done by Billy on the trike while navigating the traffic - the footage is recorded by a camera on a vehicle somewhere in front of him. Each episode contains a number of locations around the area where he is performing his stage show, and intercut into the travel footage are excerpts from his show. Most often this is the actual show that was recorded whilst in that location and often contains references to where he has been that day.

    Billy's commentary on the various locations that we visit is fantastic - you will sit absolutely absorbed by his observations and often in stitches at the humour that he weaves in. Even though this is Australia and you might think that you have seen all this before, you won't have seen it through Billy's eyes, and he has a truly unique perspective. It is also fascinating to hear a point-of-view about Australia from someone outside.

Episode 1 (39:01)

    In this episode we are in Sydney and we explore the Harbour Bridge, Goat Island (from the deck of a tall ship), Doyle's at Rose Bay, The Tank Stream (how can such an important piece of our heritage be closed to the public?) and finally a visit to the home of Ken Done. While at Doyle's and Ken Done's home one of the best parts of this series comes to light. Billy is friends with these people and we get to be a fly on the wall as they have a chat.

Episode 2 (39:00)

    We start at La Peruse. Here we hear Billy's take on the discovery of Australia with a wonderful twist that I won't spoil. From here we head to Canberra. Billy does not like Canberra or politicians one little bit. Billy is a bit of an activist, though I am sure he would prefer the term realist (and so would I, truth be told). He spends a lot of time tearing strips off everything in sight. This section had me literally in stitches, and was worth the price of admission alone in my opinion. After a couple of TV spots, we head off around Circular Quay in Sydney and meet some of the interesting buskers that perform in this area. Finally it is up to the top of the Opera House for another unique view of Sydney Harbour.

Episode 3 (39:02)

    We begin this episode in Newcastle and fishing for ocean trout off Stockton beach. Right here is something rather odd - the F word is one of Billy's favourites and the intercut footage from the stage shows is peppered with the word. But, when he uses it on the beach they bleep him! After finally catching a fish he heads off to Maitland and into a graveyard, the one that contains Les Darcy. After another quick stroll along Circular Quay we end up at the Gallery of Bret Whiteley, here we hear about Billy's friendship with Bret and see some of his works of art.

Episode 4 (39:03)

    Heading down south we arrive in Melbourne. We start at the Westgate Bridge and then move on to the old Melbourne Gaol. While here we hear a little of our history told in Billy's unique style. Next up is the Mornington Peninsula, the infamous location where Harold Holt disappeared. Following a tour of some of the sights of Melbourne we spend the rest of the show at William Ricket's Sanctuary.

Episode 5 (39:01)

    Our trip this time opens in Adelaide and straight away we meet someone interesting - Billy introduces us to Jimmy Pike. Next is a visit to the zoo where we see Billy's favourite animal, the hairy-nosed wombat. Next on the agenda is a pie floater from the famous Great Australian Pie Cart. Heading West we arrive in Perth and then on to Rottnest Island, in a very small boat on a very windy day. Only Billy could handle that one the way he does. Next up is a swim with the dolphins. This is the second time I have seen a great comedian stunned and awed by this experience. The first was Robin Williams, and now Billy Connolly. Billy celebrates his birthday on this tour and then heads off to The Pinnacles. If you have seen Billy's version of the druid dance then you have some idea of what is going to happen here.

Episode 6 (38:42)

    We start off in Brisbane where Billy heads off for a flight in a glider, a very acrobatic glider. After this we head off to the house lot. You've heard of a car lot? Well, in Brisbane they have house lots where you rock up and chose a house and they then deliver your choice the next day. A short flight takes us out to Fraser Island for the rest of the show.

Episode 7 (39:03)

    In the middle of one of the most God-forsaken places on the planet is Coober Pedy, the opal mining town. Billy takes us on a tour of the mines and inside some of those wonderful underground homes. Heading out again we have a quick look at a section of the dingo fence and then move on to the Todd river, home of the waterless boat race. Next comes the Tanami desert where Billy tries his hand at some bush cooking. He reads an excerpt from the cook book that he is using - we only get a glance at the cover but I am sure it is "Rabbit on a Shovel". This is a bush cookbook written by a chap that used to be a cook on the cattle trails called 'Lummo' and is one of the best cookbooks in existence. Not only is it invaluable for anyone that is camping as the recipes are simple, but they taste absolutely fantastic. I regularly cook dishes from it at home as well as in the bush. He starts off by helping you build a tucker box and then gives you a list of ingredients to place in this tucker box. All the recipes use ingredients from this list, all of which has very little to do with the DVD of course, so back to the disc.

Episode 8 (39:02)

    Heading north brings us to Darwin where Billy sets out to feed some crocodiles and has some fun along the way. Jumping aboard a plane takes us out to Bathurst and Melville Islands where Billy proves that he will eat anything. Of course, such a keen fisherman could not visit the top end without trying his luck with some barramundi. Finally we head back to Sydney for the wrap-up and farewell, which you say with a sad but happy feeling after touring with Billy over these eight episodes.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     There are a couple of different sections to these discs. The travel footage is very good quality video, although there are a couple of scenes where they must have used a smaller camera to capture footage such as a view from the handlebars of the Harley which is not so great. The other main section is also video and was recorded during his live shows. The material is as good as video gets. The transfer has a high bit rate and if it was recorded, it's on the disc.

    The transfer is presented at 1.33:1 and not 16x9 enhanced.

    Sharpness is very good, only losing a tiny amount to the usual video blur on moving objects. Shadow detail and the overall brightness and contrast is affected by the fact that they are using natural light for all the outside material. At times, such as at 5:20 where we are under the bridge, the contrast range is too great for the camera. Either Billy's face is correct and the bright sunlight behind him is blown out or Billy is a shadow and the sunlit scene is correct. A similar thing happens when they film Billy on the Harley and his face is in shadow from the helmet. While this is a problem, it does not really detract from the material. In some darker scenes there is some video noise as the gain on the camera goes up to compensate for the lack of light.

    The colours depend on where the footage is shot; beautiful reds in the outback, lovely blues in the ocean. All are captured very nicely and transferred without any problems or noise.

    There are no MPEG artefacts on this disc. Being video-sourced, there is the occasional video noise and of course no film problems, although I think the opening credits may have been produced on film.

    There are no subtitles.

    Being a two disc set we have two layer changes to contend with. They appear to have simply let the layer change fall wherever they came, just into the third episode on each disc (1:40 on the first disc and 2:18 on the second). Both are a little distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only a single English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack on these discs.

    For the stage material and the stationary external material the dialogue quality is excellent. Some of the material recorded on the move, such as on the Harley, is occasionally obscured by wind noise and the like. There are no problems with the audio sync.

    The theme music is Billy on the banjo. The other music has an Aussie feel and works well with the various locations.

    Forcing surround decoding places a little of the ambience in the surrounds along with the music, so a personal choice on this one as to whether you listen to it with ProLogic decoding turned on or in straight stereo.

    The subwoofer had little if anything to do.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    After a rather unusual first menu that asks you to identify which disc you are watching you get to the main menu. If you select the wrong disc you are invited to insert that disc. The main menu is a map of Australia with a set of sign posts. Each sign post has a play selection, a flag identifying the episode and an itinerary selection that takes you to a screen that lists the main places visited. There is a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack accompanying.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    There does not appear to be a Region 1 version of this disc.

Summary

    You really can't go wrong with this series - it is fantastic. You can tour Australia and then England, Ireland and Wales and hopefully Scotland very soon. Trust a Scotsman to find a way of making money in between his performances while having fun!

    The video is very good.

    The audio is functional.

    Oh dear, no extras!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Friday, December 20, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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